Robotics in ecommerce logistics

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)22_Publication in policy or professional journal

14 Scopus Citations
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  • George Q. Huang
  • Michael Z. Q. Chen
  • Jia Pan


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-77
Journal / PublicationHKIE Transactions Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


Logistics has been the bottleneck in ecommerce, creating problems such as slow and/or wrong deliveries, lost packages, damaged goods and incorrect packing. Automation extends capacities and capabilities as justified by the vast volume of online orders. An automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) can deliver high efficiency but may be limited in flexibility when it comes to dealing with order disparities in size, shape, weight, volume and mechanical properties. The ASRS may not offer adequate scalability to adapt to growth and cope with increased seasonal demands, or deal with facility breakdowns and carry out technical maintenance. Robotics promises to strike a balance between efficiency, scalability and flexibility. This paper addresses two broad questions: (1) How can robotics create a radical paradigm shift in ecommerce logistics automation systems? (2) Who should be responsible for investing in robotic ecommerce logistics facilities and how should the benefits be shared among key stakeholders? The first question is discussed through recent industrial developments in using mobile robots to achieve robotic picking methods including goods to picker/person (G2P), goods to robot (G2R), robot to goods (R2G), and through the bold concepts of robotic grid warehousing and cellular warehousing (CW). The second question is discussed by extending the emerging concept of the Product Service System (PSS) to propose a Logistics Automation Service System (LASS) business model where stakeholders focus on their own core competencies while complementing each other's expertise and sharing risks and benefits.

Research Area(s)

  • cellular warehousing, ecommerce, grid warehousing, logistics, robotics

Citation Format(s)

Robotics in ecommerce logistics. / Huang, George Q.; Chen, Michael Z. Q.; Pan, Jia.

In: HKIE Transactions Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Vol. 22, No. 2, 03.04.2015, p. 68-77.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)22_Publication in policy or professional journal